Life Without Air | Daisy Lafarge | Granta

  • Published: 05/11/2020
  • ISBN: 9781783786336
  • 134x20mm
  • 96 pages

Life Without Air

Daisy Lafarge


“Whip-smart, sonically gorgeous” – Rae Armantrout, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Versed

When Louis Pasteur observed the process of fermentation, he noted that, while most organisms perished from lack of oxygen, some were able to thrive as ‘life without air’. In this capricious, dreamlike collection, characters and scenes traverse states of airlessness, from suffocating relationships and institutions, to toxic environments and ecstatic asphyxiations.

Both compassionate and ecologically nuanced, this innovative collection bridges poetry and prose to interrogate the conditions necessary for survival.

Lafarge's is a fierce, clear-eyed poetry that expresses the sticky relationality between human pain and non-human destruction; the unsettling intimacy of our shared afflictions


Startlingly fresh, at once assertive and tender, light and dark, she manages to be consistently surprising-often in unexpected ways. The range of work showcased here is impressive in itself; add the dry wit, a flare for the surreal and bright flashes of lost reality [...] and try not to be wholly engaged, refreshed and enthused

Janice Galloway

'Daisy Lafarge's Life Without Air is a whip-smart, sonically gorgeous exploration of the personal, cultural, and historical ties that bind us in literally and figuratively toxic relationships. From the marram beach grass that supports the dunes that threaten to choke it in "Desecration Air" to the toxic lakes created by rare earth mining that power our "green" technologies in "Dredging Baotou Lake," Lafarge shows us how deeply embedded we are with what harms us. These poems are as subtle and complex as the insidious relationships they illustrate. Life Without Air is the right book for our far-gone moment

Rae Armantrout, author of Pulitzer Prized winning, Versed

The Author

Daisy Lafarge was born in Hastings and studied at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Her poetry collection Life Without Air (Granta Books, 2020) was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. Paul, the winner of a Betty Trask Award, is her debut novel.

More about the author →

From the Same Author


Daisy Lafarge

Frances is a young graduate student spending a summer volunteering in rural France, in the hope that tending vegetables and harvesting honey will distract her from a scandal that drove her out of Paris, her research unfinished and her sense of self unmoored.

At the eco-farm Noa Noa, named for his adventures in Tahiti, she comes under the influence of its charismatic and domineering owner, Paul. As his hold over her tightens and her plans come unstuck, she finds herself entangled in a strange, uneven relationship. On a fraught road trip across the South of France, both are forced to reckon with uncomfortable truths.

A compelling and perturbing story of power, passivity and the cage of being ‘good’, Paul introduces a novelist of extraordinary perspicacity and lyricism.

Daisy Lafarge on

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

Best Book of 1998: Symbiotic Planet

Daisy Lafarge

‘Symbiogenesis is horizontal and anarchic, a frenzy of illicit fusions and mergers – energies coming together for mutual benefit.’

Daisy Lafarge on the best book of 1998.

In Conversation | The Online Edition


Daisy Lafarge

‘The earliest life on the planet was life without air, anaerobic bacteria that slowly died off when oxygen began to pollute the atmosphere’.

Granta Books Writing | The Online Edition

Fossil Dinner

Daisy Lafarge

‘The poor dish looks just like me.’